Barker, Richard Percival William

Barker, Richard Percival William (Richard)

Pilot Officer

No. 41464, Royal New Zealand Air Force

Killed in an aircraft accident on Monday 22 December 1941 (aged 25)

Buried:

Grantham Cemetery, Lincolnshire, England (Section 17 Row M Grave 11)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

New Zealand National War Memorial in Wellington

New Zealand Cenotaph Database in Auckland War Memorial Museum

Brother of Flight Lieutenant Desmond Wallace Ferguson Barker DFC (No. 70043)

BIOGRAPHY

Richard Percival William Barker was the younger son of Richard Barker and Honey Sheilagh Hall Barker (nee Ferguson), of Gisborne, Auckland, New Zealand.  His father, Richard Barker, and his paternal grandfather, Percival Barker, were New Zealand sheep farmers.  His maternal grandfather, John Ferguson, was a linen manufacturer and he and his wife, Harriette Shillington Ferguson (nee Hall) from Glenavy were married on 6 November 1865 in May Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast.  They had nine children including:

John (born 9 February 1868)

William (born 27 August 1870)

Harriet (born 21 September 1872)

Anna Maria Hall (born 7 August 1874)

Honey Sheilagh Hall (born 1878)

Elese Hall (born 1879)

Robert (born 1880)

Joseph Hall (born 1885)

The Ferguson family lived in the townland of Ballykillare, Crawfordsburn and John Ferguson died sometime before the end of March 1901.

Richard Barker and Honey Sheilagh Hall Ferguson were married on 2 September 1908 in First Bangor Presbyterian Church.  Sheilagh’s brother, William Ferguson, and Kathleen J.H. Ferguson were their witnesses.  William Ferguson lived at The Craig, Carnalea.  The deaths of Desmond Wallace Ferguson Barker and Richard Percival William Barker were reported in the County Down Spectator and their uncle William Ferguson placed Killed in Action and In Memoriam notices in the same newspaper.  Desmond was the first of the two brothers to die.  Their father, Richard Barker, died on 24 January 1942 (aged 74), one month after the death of his second son.  Their mother, Sheilagh Barker, died on 27 September 1946 (aged 68) and both parents were buried in Taruheru Cemetery, Gisborne, New Zealand.

During the Second World War Richard Percival William Barker served as a Pilot Officer in the Royal New Zealand Air Force.  He died on 22 December 1941 at Terrace Hills, Lincolnshire, some ten months after the death of his brother Desmond.  It was reported in the press that Richard died ‘in an incident similar to his brother’.

Pilot Officer Richard Percival William Barker (No. 41464) was one of eight men aboard a Handley Page Halifax Mark I aircraft (L9522) of 28 Conversion Flight that took off at 10.25 am from its Heavy Conversion Unit at RAF Leconfield in Yorkshire on a Ferry flight to the Handley Page factory at Radlett, Hertfordshire.  Weather conditions were described as ‘extremely adverse’.  The aircraft, which was captained by Flight Lieutenant Owen, was seen about 40 minutes later flying low over Lincolnshire, in the vicinity of Knipton, heading towards Barkston Woods, in poor visibility.  The aircraft crashed a few minutes later into a wooded area on the top of a high ridge known as Terrace Hills. All eight men on board were killed and in addition to Pilot Officer Richard Percival William Barker (aged 25) the others who died that morning were:

  • Flt Lt Robert Fenwick Owen DFC (aged 25) from St. Albans, Hertfordshire
  • Pilot Officer William Stuart Beattie (aged 24) (RNZAF)
  • Sergeant Leslie Merrifield (aged 23) from Horwich, Lancashire
  • FO Eric Arthur Fawns Gibb DFM (aged 22) from Edinburgh
  • Sgt Stanley Robert Mayston DFM (aged 21) from Thornton Heath, London
  • Sergeant James Albert Denning
  • Corporal James Anthony Hancock (aged 21) from Blackburn, Lancashire

Flight Lieutenant Desmond Wallace Ferguson Barker and Pilot Officer Richard Percival William Barker are both commemorated on the New Zealand National War Memorial in Wellington and on the New Zealand Cenotaph Database in Auckland War Memorial Museum.